The phrase “nobody’s perfect” just might not apply to José Mourinho when it comes to European soccer finals.
The 60-year-old Mourinho has won all five of the European finals in which the teams he has coached have appeared, and he now has an opportunity to add to his 100% record after Roma reached the Europa League final on Thursday, drawing 0-0 against Bayer Leverkusen to secure a 1-0 victory on aggregate in their semifinal.
Even after all those trophies, emotion still poured out of Mourinho as he was left in tears at the final whistle, after his team had somehow frustrated an utterly dominant Leverkusen.
It marks a second European final in as many years for Roma under Mourinho, after a 31-year absence for the Italian club, but the Portuguese coach was quick to downplay his own achievements.
“My concern isn’t marking my place in the Roma history books,” Mourinho told Sky Sports after the match.
“It’s helping these kids (players) to grow and achieve important things. It’s also helping the Roma fans who have given me so much since day one. It’s an immense joy to get to another final.”
Entering the tie with a 1-0 lead after Edoardo Bove’s goal in the first leg, Roma’s defense held firm throughout the match despite the German team having 72% possession, and engineering 23 shots compared to the Giallorossi’s one.
Forward Moussa Diaby perhaps came closest to that elusive goal for Leverkusen but his effort hit the crossbar.
Roma will now face Sevilla in the Europa League final at Budapest’s Puskás Aréna on May 31. The Spanish team is likely to be a formidable foe – not least because Sevilla has won all six of its previous Europa League finals.
As well as providing a chance for Mourinho to add to his already sizeable trophy haul, victory in Budapest would secure a spot in next season’s Champions League which otherwise seems unlikely given that Roma is currently sixth in Serie A.
Recently Mourinho has been linked with a move to one of the richest clubs in world football – Paris Saint-Germain – though he has brushed off the speculation.
“If they called, they didn’t find me,” he quipped in a Sky Sport Italia interview ahead of the semifinal first leg, when asked about the PSG reports.
Nonetheless, football journalist James Horncastle suggests Mourinho may be tempted to try and win the Champions League again with another club – a tournament he’s already won with Porto and Inter Milan – if Roma ultimately fail to qualify.
“He sees Roma as a way to bounce back to another big job,” Horncastle said on the Football Daily podcast.
“José is someone who ultimately wants to win wherever he goes and I think he feels that at Roma, unless they start changing the strategy and start spending more money, they’re not going to be able to deliver a league title.
“He would like a project that is befitting his legacy again, which would be the chance to compete for a Champions League.”
CNN’s Ben Church contributed to this report.